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Install a Penny Countertop 


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Install a Penny Countertop 

Written By: Shane Selman 

/* TOOLS: 

• Paintbrush (1) 
or roller 

• Propane torch (1) 

• Shears (1) 

• Squeegeed) 

or similar device 

• Timer (1) 


i • Aluminum flashing tape (1) 

I • Vessel (2) 

1 Recommend disposable 

I • Vessel (4) 

Recommend disposable 

1 • Paint M) 

• Pennies (1) 

1 • Acrylic resin (1) 

1 • Oxalic acid cleaner (1) 

Or other steel sink cleaner 


We used two part clear epoxy and a bunch of pennies to make a counter top that has held up 
remarkably well under all kinds of abuse, and never fails to stop new visitors in their tracks. 

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Install a Penny Countertop 

Coin Covered Countertops 

Pgr-squ? re-foot CflSt Comparison 

Coins Resin 
Qiy Cost Amount C::s: 


Pfennigs saa %m ?&2of sz.ea 


Metals 232 S1 160 4.51 oz £?12 


Dimes 340 134.00 6D1oz £.82 


fluKii*™ 175 (43 JS &.13oj Sx 41 


Half Dollars 115 S57.SO 3.?7oz Sl.?fi 


Dollars 150 SI 50.00 4.33oz S?.03 







£50 • 20 

Rgs in amount is based on 1/0" rJe$p pour minus coin vrjh 
cast based «i S6D/gallon. Corrparison prices based on a 
Google search. 

yme. Resin 

The project actually takes 4-6 hours of actual work. The rest is curing and drying time. 

Clean the surface thoroughly, and prepare it for painting. If it is a smooth or polished 
surface use sand paper or steel wool to scratch up the surface enough for the paint to 

• We recommend using a dark color for the best dramatic effect. The pennies will 
not cover 100% of the surface so if you use a bright color, there is a good 
chance it will show through. 

Allow the paint to dry thoroughly before proceeding. 

Determine how many pennies and how much resin you will need. The chart 
provided assumes 1/8" deep resin over the coins. Additional layers will require 
approximately 10oz of mixed resin per square foot for each additional 1/8" of depth 


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Install a Penny Countertop 

I L 

Wash the pennies in plain soapy water to get rid of large debris and dirt. The goal here is 
just to get the pennies relatively clean, not to polish them back to a bright copper finish. 

Take a portion of the pennies (we did about 20% of ours) and dump them into a bucket with 
hot water and a cleaner that lists Oxalic Acid as a primary ingredient. We used a common 
one called 'Barkeep's Friend', but it's no better or worse than any other 

The bucket should be no more than 1/3 full with pennies and water, and the water line 
should be higher than the pennies. Adding a bit of sand will help polish the pennies, but be 
sure to use a strainer and wash it out before using the pennies. 

Put a lid on the bucket and shake it vigorously for 2-3 minutes. Pop off the lid, drain off the 
sudsy water and rinse thoroughly. Most of the pennies should now be bright and well 
polished. Spread them out and allow them to dry thoroughly before proceeding 

• You can polish the whole lot if you like, but we recommend laying the pennies out tf^^ 
and looking at them for a while before committing to them. We like the patterns 
and visual interest that the mixture of burnished and not burnished provides. 

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Install a Penny Countertop 

Use the aluminum flashing tape, or other semi rigid barrier to create a dam around the 
edge of your work surface. The edge needs to sit a little higher than the thickness you plan 
to pour the epoxy to. 

Make certain the seal around the edge of the surface is water tight, and that whatever you 
are using for a dam is strong enough to withstand the weight of the epoxy you will be 

Distribute the pennies across the surface however you see fit. Make sure that each penny 
is butted securely up against each of its neighbors. 

• if you decide to lay in patterns, it usually works better to arrange by color than by 
face. The distinction between heads and tails can be difficult to identify, but a 
non-random assemblage of similarly colored pennies stands out immediately. 

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Install a Penny Countertop 

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Once you have everything laid in tightly, you will notice some voids around the edges that 
are too small to fit a whole penny. If you are a little bit anal, like us, you'll want to fill those 


Using a metal shear if you have one, or a pair of snips, cut pennies down fit in the gaps. 

Afo, it is absolutely NOT illegal to use coins in this fashion. You can use them or 
destroy them in the making of decorations of many sorts, you simply cannot 
spend them afterwards. 


The snips will be pretty useless by the time you are done, so DON'T borrow someone 
else's or conscript your wife/husband/parent/friend/neighbor's. We used a beat up old pair 
of harbor freight specials that we keep around for just such strange requirements. 

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Install a Penny Countertop 

The following is the general mixing procedure, but may differ slightly from your specific 
product. If in doubt, mix the epoxy according to the instructions for your product. 

• Take your time. Measure Carefully and Mix Thoroughly!. Do NOT try to take 
shortcuts. Screwing this up can cause the epoxy to set up too fast, or worse, not 
at all. 

• Purchase two identical measuring containers. Label them Part A and B and be /f^^ 
sure to pour the correct part into the correct cup. By themselves, neither part will 
harden so the cups can be reused throughout the project. You will also need several 
disposable containers to mix in. They can be reused this session, but not for later 


It is very easy to accidentally pour too much and if you're pouring both into the 
same container you can't pour some back. 


• Start your timer and pour both parts into one of these containers at the same time and 
mix for the prescribed amount of time (2min for ours.) As you mix, scrape the sides and 
bottom of the container to ensure it is fully incorporated. 

• When the timer expires, pour the entire batch into a clean container, scraping the sides 
of the first one. Reset the timer and continue mixing (for another 2 minutes in our case.) 
You are then ready to pour. It's generally not recommended that you scrape the sides of 
this container in case any unmixed epoxy remains. 

• Though tempting, DO NOT use a power drill or other powered mixer for this. It 
will introduce a tremendous amount of air bubbles which may not be expelled 
before the expoxy sets. 

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Install a Penny Countertop 

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Pour slowly and evenly from 2-3 feet above the surface in a small, narrow stream. Just 

ike in mold making, the narrow stream helps to disperse the air bubbles introduced in the 
mixing process, minimizing bubbles on surface to be coated. 

• Use a squeegee to spread the epoxy evenly and fill in voids. The first coat should just 
barely cover the pennies. 

• Work in small batches, and work quickly. If you are doing more than a small area, it's 
really best as a two person job. One to mix and pour, and one to distribute the epoxy. 
Depending on the product you choose, you'll have between 10 and 25 minutes of work 

• Beyond the "working time" or "open time", touching it may leave marks. (If this isn't 
your final layer, marks aren't critical as later layers will bond to it transparently.) 

The yellow highlight shows a piece of acrylic we were using as a spreader laying on the 
dry pennies. DONT DO THIS! When picking up the spreader later, the epoxy on it will 
cause it to pick up a bunch of pennies in the process. Not something you want to deal with 
while under the gun of epoxy curing time. 

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Install a Penny Countertop 

Because each penny has a raised edge, it forms an air pocket underneath. When the 
heavy epoxy liquid is poured on top, it forces the air out. The epoxy is engineered to expel 
air bubbles naturally, but particularly as you get closer to the epoxy setting up, they may 
not break by themselves. 

The instructions recommend the use of a propane torch. They suggest that it's the C02 
from the flame, not the flame itself that encourages the bubbles to pop. I think it's also 
heating the air in the bubble which causes it to expand rapidly and pushes it toward the 

Run the torch quickly across the surface. Do not stay too long in one place. The epoxy is 
not flammable, but it will burn and discolor if you stay in one place too long. 

We also had success using the corner of our acrylic spreader tools, as well as the point of 
dry wall screws to pop the bubbles. 

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Install a Penny Countertop 

• Allow the first coat to completely 
cure - generally 10-12 hours 

• Check the surface for air bubbles 
or other imperfections. Use a small 
drill bit and knife to open up and 
round the edges of the bubbles or 
other defects. As long as they're 
open and clean, the second coat 
will fill them in completely. 

• If you don't want to put a border to 
your surface, remove whatever 
material you used for a dam on the 
first coat, and put down a mask on 
the floor and any 
appliances/cabinets under the 
surface. We opted to paint our 
edge black at this stage, then the 
second coat was allowed to run 
over the edge to make it glossy. 

• If it's necessary to clean the 
surface between coats, use 
Acetone, which is recommended by 
the epoxy manufacturer. 

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Install a Penny Countertop 

Step 10 — Edge Cleanup 

No matter how careful you are, there will be a few drips along the underside of your 
surface. Once the epoxy is partially set, you can use a razor blade to remove these. If you 
wait until it's fully cured, you will need to use a sander instead. 

Note: with some brands at least, the epoxy will remain somewhat soft. If you leave 
a heavy item on the counter for a while, it will leave an indentation. The good news 
is, when you move it, it will gradually level out. You can avoid this by avoiding heavy 
things with relatively small feet, or by placing such items on a flat board or plate to 
distribute the weight more evenly. 

We have included the two page printable guide we handed out at the Bay Area Maker Faire 2012. 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 1 -02 1 2:58:1 PM. 

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